Myth: I’m leaving my estate equally to my kids so there won’t be any problems.

qtq80-vBalu6One of the biggest myths out there is that leaving an estate equally amongst children will prevent family fallouts. In life, as with estates, equal rarely means equal. Let’s start with this scenario. A mother leaves her estate equally to her two sons. The mother signs her estate planning documents with a feeling of great satisfaction, assuring herself that there will be no fights between her sons because both of them will inherit equally, even-steven. Sounds good, right? Maybe… but what if one of those sons is a millionaire who does not need the money, and the other son is a struggling paycheck to paycheck worker. The struggling son may deeply resent the millionaire brother and his mother for this “equal” set up, because he feels it is lacks sensitivity to the disparity of wealth between him and his brother. How about another scenario. For this scenario, both sons are paycheck to paycheck workers, but one of them is a traveling salesperson who is never home and the other is a teacher. When mom needs to be cared for in her older days, the traveling salesperson brother can’t be bothered to interrupt his traveling job to take care of his mom, so the task falls squarely on the teacher son. The teacher son spends the next 3 years taking care of mom and her daily needs. When the time comes for the will to be read, the teacher brother may be very disappointed at his mother and brother when he hears that both teacher and traveling salesperson brother will inherit equally, given the time and monetary investment that teacher brother spent with his mother. My point is that don’t just think that because you are leaving your estate equally to your children, that equal means equal. Talk to your kids, and kids talk to parents, and with communication try to come up with a working scenario that everyone can feel good about, so that equal can really mean equal, and kids won’t resent each other and their parents.